Mandrake (2022) Movie Ending, Explained: Mandrake is a folk horror movie directed by Lynne Davison and starring Deirdre Mullins, Derbhle Crotty, Paul Kennedy, Ian Beatty, and Seamus O’Hara. It’s an ambient film that relies quite heavily on its bleak atmosphere though little else can be said about the arcane mythology it adopts. What’s incredibly frustrating about it is how little information it provides about its world, the motivations of its characters, and the directions it takes. Crotty’s performance as the diabolical antagonist is easily the film’s most vital point and the sole reason to watch what is otherwise a fairly forgettable work. It is currently streaming on Shudder.
Mandrake (2022) Movie Plot
Cathy is a probation officer and single mother who lives in the small Irish town of Ballylee. She was once married to Jason, a police officer, who is now married to Grace. Grace is pregnant but shares an amicable relationship with Cathy, taking care of her son, Luke, whenever he goes to stay with Jason. Cathy is given the responsibility of reforming a woman, Mary Laidlaw, who was in prison for 30 years following her gruesome murder of her husband and has just been released.
Mary is strangely aware of things that have happened in Ballylee during her sentence. When Cathy goes to her place to put a location tag on her, Mary can tell that she has a son. When Jason visits Mary, she seems to know that he and Cathy were married once. Cathy’s release incites the curiosity of the McGrath siblings, who have grown up listening to scary stories about her. They search for her house and are kidnapped by The Wandering Man. This causes a local stir as an extensive search in the region around Mary’s house begins for the kids, which is also where the infamous place known as The Moss is. She is a prime suspect as it is right after her release that the kids go missing. The kids are indeed with Mary and Thomas, her son, who then murders them, following which a furor is kicked up by their parents, who seek justice.
Who is Bloody Mary?
Mary is a notorious local figure known as ‘Bloody Mary.’ In 1991, she was caught red-handed by her husband, Jim, while having an affair with a young man who was said to wander around in a strange get-up. Jim beat Cathy up and set her on fire, leaving her to die in a forest known as The Moss. He also strung the young man to a tree in order to kill him. Mary miraculously managed to survive, though with severe burns. Even though her lover’s fate is not revealed, she killed Jim with an ax. She was then arrested and given a life sentence.
In the wake of her arrest, her engagement with witchcraft and her lover was discovered. Their pagan practices involved a mysterious figure by the name of ‘The Wandering Man. She was pregnant at the time of her arrest, and her child was given away to social services. She became a major local phenomenon, and stories about her continue to be used to scare kids. A fear around Mary is extant even during the film’s timeline, as can be seen from how seriously Jason takes her and her past, having grown up in Ballylee.
What does the mandrake do?
In medieval times, the mandrake root, shaped like a human baby, was said to have various qualities ranging from healing properties to providing fertility. Given the root’s rarity, stories about its dangers were circulated to ward off public interest in it, and its clandestine usage of it became associated with witchcraft and sorcery. A mandrake root was said to give out a demonic shriek if one attempted to pull it from the ground and could kill anyone who heard it. The most common method to procure it was by putting a rope around a dog’s tail and attaching that rope to the mandrake (with wax in one’s ears while doing it, so they do not have to listen to the screams of the root). A piece of meat would be thrown in the opposite direction of the mandrake, which would make the dog dash towards it, and in the process, it would rip out the root from the ground, though the dog would die in the process from being exposed to the scream.
‘Mandrake’ opens with Shawn Duggan trying to retrieve a mandrake root with a leash around its neck, who then fails and is pulled away. Whoever put him to it using humans in place of dogs to do this deed. The police later discover his corpse. It is possible that the McGrath children were used for the same purpose. After discovering that Mary has been up to her old deeds again, Cathy is taken captive and made to pull out the mandrake for Mary and Thomas. It is a ritual that she makes all her prisoners undergo as she is searching for the root to restore her fertility, so she can have a child again and bring it up herself this time, unlike Thomas, who was snatched away from her. When Cathy manages to get the mandrake for her, she uses it to heal her injuries. Cathy’s hallucination shows us another dimension of what the mandrake is capable of.
Mandrake (2022) Movie Ending, Explained
Who is The Wandering Man?
After escaping from Mary’s place, Cathy runs into Luke, being taken away by The Wandering Man. When she beats him up, it is revealed to be Thomas in disguise. The Wandering Man is not a supernatural creature but a creation of Mary’s. When Bill goes over to Mary’s and helps her in killing Jason, he refers to a time from before her imprisonment when the two of them were together. It’s highly possible then that the young man she was caught having an affair with by her husband was Bill. He would also then be Thomas’s biological father and the person who put on the disguise of The Wandering Man at the time, hence solving the mystery of the man with a reputation for putting on a strange costume.
Cathy manages to escape with Luke back to her place, where Mary has left behind a mandrake. Sometime later, Cathy goes to visit Grace, who has given birth to her and Jason’s child. Peace has been restored in the village following Mary’s escape, and Massey thinks she’s probably gone south. In the film’s final scene, while holding Grace’s child, Cathy can connect with Mary, who is standing naked, possibly in preparation for some demonic ritual in a distant place. This also shows that following her retrieval of the mandrake root and her consumption of it, she has formed a telekinetic connection with Mary, the possibilities of which terrify her.